• [The Daily] Weinstein and Co.

    By David Hudson

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    Last week, after years of rumors and aborted attempts to bring it to light, Hollywood’s “open secret” finally became a story fit to print. On Thursday, October 5, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey reported for the New York Times that they’d “found previously undisclosed allegations against [producer Harvey] Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.” And earlier this week, following a ten-month investigation, Ronan Farrow reported for the New Yorker that he’d been “told by thirteen women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, allegations that corroborate and overlap with the Times’ revelations, and also include far more serious claims.” Accompanying the piece is a stomach-turning audio clip of Weinstein attempting to coerce model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez into going with him to his hotel room.

    Weinstein has been fired, his wife has left him, the Weinstein Company is contemplating a name change, his own brother, Bob Weinstein, has called him “obviously a very sick man,” politicians are passing Weinstein’s donations on to charity, and debates are raging as to who’s been covering for him all these years. Meantime, the list of women going public with their own stories of being harassed and/or assaulted by Harvey Weinstein carries on growing.

    “I have been having conversations about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment for more than seventeen years,” writes Rebecca Traister in a piece for New York magazine that attempts to explain why it’s taken so long for this story to break. “Weinstein didn’t just exert physical power. He also employed legal and professional and economic power. . . . For decades, the reporters who tried to tell the story of Harvey Weinstein butted up against the same wall of sheer force and immovable power that was leveraged against those ambitious actors, the vulnerable assistants, the executives whose careers, salaries, and reputations were in his hands.”

    In the New York Times, Jim Rutenberg focuses on what he calls “something akin to a protection racket. This is the network of aggressive public relations flacks and lawyers who guard the secrets of those who employ them and keep their misdeeds out of public view. . . . For many journalists, Mr. Weinstein was the white whale that got away.” The late NYT columnist David Carr “twice came close to nailing down a story about abuses committed by Mr. Weinstein. In both cases, the accuser ‘backed out after agreeing to talk.’ There were similar stories of failed attempts involving Kim Masters of the Hollywood Reporter, Ken Auletta of the New Yorker, Benjamin Wallace of New York magazine and Times reporters. As David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, told me on Wednesday, a news organization cannot go after a powerful figure or institution if it does not have the resources for lawyers, fact checkers and experienced editors who won’t be intimidated by the protection racket.”

    “Two years and six months ago, the Manhattan district attorney had an opportunity to charge Harvey Weinstein with a sex crime.” For Salon, Leon Neyfakh looks into “what happened after Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office decided not to pursue it. That decision is now under scrutiny, as is Vance’s credibility as an elected official.”

    “It is the perverse, insistent, matter-of-factness of male sexual predation and assault—of men’s power over women—that haunts the revelations about Mr. Weinstein,” writes the NYT’s Manohla Dargis. “This banality of abuse also haunts the American movie industry. Women helped build the industry, but it has long been a male-dominated enterprise that systematically treats women—as a class—as inferior to men. It is an industry with a history of sexually exploiting younger female performers and stamping expiration dates on older ones. It is an industry that consistently denies female directors employment and contemptuously treats the female audience as a niche, a problem, an afterthought.”

    “If you have ever experienced sexual assault or harassment, you know that one of the cruellest things about these acts is the way that they entangle, and attempt to contaminate, all of the best things about you,” writes Jia Tolentino in the New Yorker. And “most of the women who have spoken up about Weinstein—a group that includes, among many others, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie—have spoken with a tone that many women find familiar: a muted sadness, a long-kept knowledge of diminishment, a sense of undeserved yet inescapable remorse.”

    “Remember that every time a man commits a violent act it only takes one or two steps to figure out how it’s a woman’s fault,” writes Rebecca Solnit at the Literary Hub.

    Megan Twohey has been following up on the Weinstein Company, reporting that Bob Weinstein and company president David Glasser have “told concerned employees in a video conference call that they were shocked by the allegations and unaware of payments made to women who complained of unwanted touching, sexual harassment and other over-the-line behavior . . . But interviews and internal company records show that the company has been grappling with Mr. Weinstein’s behavior for at least two years.”

    As for “the allegedly widespread efforts on the part of other executives and staff members at his company to cover up for him,” the Los Angeles Times editorial board writes: “That kind of collusion—and that’s what it is—on the part of colleagues who think they know about sexual misconduct but do not stop it or report it is why sexual harassment and assault are still so prevalent in the workplace.”

    Filmmaker and former head of Focus Features James Schamus tells Scott Feinberg in the Hollywood Reporter that “soon, very soon, we need to move past our fascination and horror at the pathologies of this particular predator, and ask, just how is it possible that, for example, a corporate Human Resources department could, for three decades, in essence preside over a factory of abuse? . . . This is the story of one predator and his many victims; but it is also a story about an overwhelming systemic enabling, and until that story is fully told we will fall far short of stopping future depredations on a similar scale.”

    Updates: The New York Police Department is opening a criminal investigation, reports Seth Kelley for Variety. Dominic Patten notes that London’s opening one as well, and the “LAPD is ‘considering our options and the best course of action to take’ a source within the department tells Deadline.”

    “Perhaps the truth will out other sexual harassment, be it from a governor or a president or a presidential candidate or studio head or movie star or executive or anyone else complicit in this billionaire boys club bullshit that will come to an inglorious end,” writes Jamie Lee Curtis at the HuffPost.

    Citing Rhonda Richard’s story in the Hollywood Reporter on Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux and president Pierre Lescure’s statement (“We have been dismayed to learn of the accusations . . . These actions point to a pattern of behavior that merits only the clearest and most unequivocal condemnation”), Melissa Silverstein snorts, “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Fremaux and Lescure are so much a part of the problem that their condemning Weinstein is almost laughable.”

    Also at Women and Hollywood is a collection of pieces by women that have appeared over the last week. Among those we haven’t already cited: Stephanie Zacharek (Time), Rebecca Solnit (Guardian), Christina Cauterucci (Slate), and Liz Meriwether (The Cut).

    Updates, 10/13: “I dealt with sexual harassment all the time, during my modeling and film career,” tweets Tippi Hedren. “Hitchcock wasn’t the first. However, I wasn’t going to take it anymore, so I simply walked away and didn’t look back. Hitch said he would ruin my career and I told him to do what he had to do. It has taken fifty years, but it is about time that women started standing up for themselves as they appear to be doing in the Weinstein case. Good for them!”

    For Slate, Isaac Chotiner talks with Peter Biskind, whose 2015 book, Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, “presents a damning and critical portrait of the hot-tempered and voluble Harvey, [but] does not touch on the accounts of rape, assault, and harassment that numerous actresses and others have given to reporters over the past several weeks.” Chotiner asks him why.

    Updates, 10/14: The Hollywood Reporter’s Matthew Belloni and Gregg Kilday talk with Bob Weinstein. “I have a brother that’s indefensible and crazy,” he says. “I want him to get the justice that he deserves.” Also: “I was also the object of a lot of his verbal abuse—at one time physical abuse. And I am not looking for one bit of sympathy from anyone. I do not put myself in the category at all of those women that he hurt. . . . I don't feel he feels anything to this day. I don't. . . . No F-in way was I aware that that was the type of predator that he was.” Meantime, he and David Glasser are working on salvaging the company.

    Deadline’s Greg Evans passes along a statement from the Academy:

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors met today to discuss the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and has voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy. We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.

    “Harvey Weinstein may be the central-casting version of a Hollywood predator, but he was just one festering pustule in a diseased industry,” writes Sarah Polley as she looks back on her years as an actor and as a director for the New York Times. “The only thing that shocked most people in the film industry about the Harvey Weinstein story was that suddenly, for some reason, people seemed to care. That knowledge alone allowed a lot of us to breathe for the first time in ages.”

    Updates, 10/15: “The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved,” says Woody Allen. “Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that is life is so messed up. . . . You also don't want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself. That's not right either. But sure, you hope that something like this could be transformed into a benefit for people rather than just a sad or tragic situation.”

    Writing for the Nation, Lizzy Ratner argues that the industry as a whole “operates more like a self-sustaining discrimination loop: women are kept out of the industry because of sexism, and, because they’re left out, sexism is able to flourish. And this sexism plays out across the system, in everything from the cliché storylines that pass for plots to the numbers of women represented on screen to the way these women are treated on their way to the screen.”

    Update, 10/16: “The Producers Guild of America has started its expulsion process to kick disgraced studio mogul Harvey Weinstein out of the trade organization,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary.

    Updates, 10/17: Bob’s turn. Amanda Segel, an executive producer of the Weinstein Co.’s The Mist, is accusing Bob Weinstein of sexually harassing her “on and off for about three months” just last year. Cynthia Littleton reports that a “representative for Bob Weinstein denied that he engaged in any inappropriate behavior in a statement to Variety.

    “Along with Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and L.A. Reid, Weinstein is a sign that the old methods that stars and top executives used to cover up their sins isn’t working,” write Brent Lang and Elizabeth Wagmeister in a new Variety cover story. “Their praetorian guards of lawyers and spin-makers, their penchant for paying hush money to victims and making them sign draconian nondisclosure agreements that prevent them from going public, can no longer buy silence. . . . The hope in the industry is that the alleged abhorrent behavior by Weinstein and the other perpetrators will trigger some genuine soul-searching across the entertainment business and beyond. . . . But is an industry that gave convicted rapist Roman Polanski an Oscar, lionized and named buildings for sexual predators like MGM founder Louis B. Mayer and looked the other way as Weinstein’s behavior with women became an open secret, ready to change?”

    Updates, 10/19: Deadline’s Dominic Patten reports that “the LAPD today formally announced they are investigating the disgraced producer on allegations of rape.”

    Quentin Tarantino “has known for decades about the producer’s alleged misconduct toward women and now feels ashamed he did not take a stronger stand and stop working with him, he said in an interview,” reports the NYT’s Jodi Kantor. “‘I knew enough to do more than I did,’ he said, citing several episodes involving prominent actresses. . . . ‘I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard,’ he added. ‘If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.’” When Tarantino “tried to call Mr. Weinstein several times recently after the disclosures, he said, he got no reply. Mr. Weinstein needs to ‘face the music,’ he said.”

    As Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey reports, Kevin Smith, who’s made films for both Miramax and TWC, will “donate all future royalties and residuals from those films to Women In Film, a not-for-profit organization that, per their website, ‘advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries—to achieve parity and transform culture.’”

    Update, 10/22: If you haven’t yet read Lupita Nyong’o’s piece in the NYT, do: “I have not been able to avoid the memories resurfacing. I have felt sick in the pit of my stomach.”

    IN OTHER NEWS

    “Honest Trailers creator Andy Signore has been fired by Defy Media after he was accused of sexual abuse.” Aaron Couch for the Hollywood Reporter: “Stories of sexual harassment have roiled the genre community over the past year, with Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles taking a leave of absence last month after multiple women went public with stories of sexual assault. Devin Faraci exited Birth.Movies.Death as editor-in-chief last October after allegations of sexual assault, while in Los Angeles, the independent film venue Cinefamily suspended its activities in August after executives resigned following sexual abuse allegations.”

    Update: “Roy Price, VP Amazon Studios and global head of Prime Video content, has been suspended from the retail giant and streaming platform following a harassment claim from one of the company's producers.” Kim Masters and Lesley Goldberg have more in the Hollywood Reporter.

    Update, 10/13: “After coming to disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein’s defense, Oliver Stone is now facing a sexual assault allegation of his own,” reports Maane Khatchatourian for Variety. “Former Playboy model Carrie Stevens has accused the renowned director of groping her at a party 26 years ago.”

    Updates, 10/14: “Amazon made a pricey $160 million bet on a new series from director David O. Russell starring Julianne Moore and Robert De Niro.” Now, as Michael Schneider reports for IndieWire, the untitled project’s been called off. “Weinstein Co. was a producer on the untitled series, the details of which had been kept under wraps. The decision to cancel production also came a day after Amazon Studios boss Roy Price, who picked up the show, was placed on indefinite leave due to sexual harassment allegations.”

    Amazon’s also cancelled the red carpet leading up to the world premiere of Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel. Zach Sharf has more at IndieWire.

    “Until I saw Hollywood’s underbelly and machinations close up, when I became chief film critic for a newspaper seven years ago, I did not grasp the extent to which the movie industry was fueled by a tanker of testosterone,” writes Kate Muir in the Financial Times. “Like any upstanding member of the chattering classes, I would see a charming little French film or an Oscar contender at the Everyman Cinema on a Sunday night, and think all was well with the world. But once I was watching 350 films a year, I began to wonder where all the female, black, Asian and minority directors and characters were, and why about seventy per cent of protagonists were male. Unlike any other art form, the production of popular movies seemed to be taking place in a mysterious gentleman’s club.”

    “The allegations against Weinstein are a different magnitude than what happened at Cinefamily and at Fantastic Fest,” grants Alison Willmore at Buzzfeed, “but there are ways in which these incidents fall into a dispiriting line. In particular, there are commonalities in how the value of the films these companies and organizations are dedicated to presenting get used to justify covering up misconduct. A shared love of movies doesn't make misogyny go away, and a sense of community doesn't mean that power won't get abused. One thing that can be said on behalf of giant corporations? No one would mistake them for friends or for family.”

    Updates, 10/16: “I am inspired by the women everywhere who are speaking up online to tell about my experience with a danish director,” writes Björk in a post to Facebook, clearly referencing her experience with Lars von Trier during the making of Dancer in the Dark (2000). “When I turned the director down repeatedly, he sulked and punished me . . . I walked away from it and recovered in a year’s time. I am worried though that other actresses working with the same man did not. . . . let's hope this statement supports the actresses and actors all over / let's stop this / there is a wave of change in the world.”

    “Von Trier denied sexually harassing Björk in the Danish newspaper Jylannds Posten through his Zentropa business partner Peter Aalbaek Jensen,” reports Zach Sharf at IndieWire.

    “Woody Allen has clarified his comments,” reports Variety’s Leo Barraclough. “‘When I said I felt sad for Harvey Weinstein I thought it was clear the meaning was because he is a sad, sick man,’ Allen’s statement reads. ‘I was surprised it was treated differently.’”

    For the latest Critics Survey at IndieWire, David Ehrlich returns “to an age-old question that could always stand to be asked anew: How should the backstory of a film and / or its makers impact the way we receive it?”

    Updates, 10/17: “Imagine a different Hollywood where women are respected as human beings,” writes Amy Nicholson in the Village Voice. “Really picture it—picture the films, the posters, the scripts, the auditions, and the award shows where women have as good a chance of winning Best Director as their male counterparts. Equality is at once basic and world-upending. Honestly, it hurts my brain that I’ve never truly envisioned it before. My own myopia makes me feel ashamed. I understand why people hide their heads and swear the sun circles the globe.”

    Following Lars von Trier’s denial via a third party, Björk has posted more details regarding her experience with him: “While filming in Sweden, he threatened to climb from his room’s balcony over to mine in the middle of the night with a clear sexual intention, while his wife was in the room next door. I escaped to my friend’s room. This was what finally woke me up to the severity of all this and made me stand my ground.”

    “While my own Harvey story may be different, I have had plenty of Harveys of my own over the years, enough to feel a sickening shock of recognition,” writes Molly Ringwald for the New Yorker. “When I was thirteen, a fifty-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection. At fourteen, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set. At a time when I was trying to figure out what it meant to become a sexually viable young woman, at every turn some older guy tried to help speed up the process.”

    “I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate,” Reese Witherspoon said at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, reports Matt Fernandez for Variety. She elaborated: “True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was sixteen years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment. And I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault, and I don’t speak about them very often, but after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.”

    At the A.V. Club, Katie Rife presents an “incomplete, depressingly long list of celebrities’ sexual assault and harassment stories.”

    The New Yorker’s Richard Brody debunks that old “chestnut that has been passing through the minds and mouths of sophisticated movie people for decades: that, in Hollywood’s high-studio era, the studio bosses, even if they were crude and vulgar, loved movies and therefore made beautiful movies, and their aggressive and high-handed behavior was part and parcel of that very passion.” The “celebrated dream factories were also the graveyards of dreams, in which many of the great films serve as the headstones. . . . There’s a reason why Harvey Weinstein’s cinematic significance has largely dwindled in recent years; he’s an unfortunate throwback not only in his personal behavior but in his creative approach, too.”

    “Documentaries like [Amy Berg’s] An Open Secret [2014] and the testimony of former child actors like [Corey] Feldman have long contested that pedophilia and the abuse of young men is Hollywood’s other dark secret,” writes Ira Madison III for the Daily Beast. “If that is truly the case, what more will it take for it to come to light?”

    Meantime, as Daniel Holloway reports for Variety, Roy Price is now exiting Amazon for good.

    Updates, 10/19: IndieWire’s Zack Sharf reports that Kristen Stewart “says she has tried to protect makeup artists and camera assistants from sexual harassment on numerous occasions.”

    This is the subject of a piece for the Hollywood Reporter in which Carolyn Giardina argues that “for the growing number of women who work on film and TV shows in a so-called ‘below-the-line’ capacity—on camera and sound crews, in editorial and music departments—such harassment is all too familiar and widespread. And little is being done to stop it.”

    For the Guardian, Pamela Hutchinson revisits the history of sexism and sexual assault in Hollywood dating back to the silent era.

    Updates, 10/22: In separate interviews, thirty-eight women have accused director James Toback of sexual harassment and worse, reports Glenn Whipp in the Los Angeles Times. “The women’s accounts portray James Toback as a man who, for decades, sexually harassed women he hired, women looking for work and women he just saw on the street. The vast majority of these women—31 of the 38 interviewed—spoke on the record.” On Twitter, Alison Willmore points out that Toback’s behavior has been reported on by Gawker in 2008, 2010, and 2012—and by Spy magazine back in 1989.

    “Men, for good reasons or bad—or some of both, quite likely—have largely stood aside, unsure about what to say or how to respond,” writes Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir. “I shared that reaction at first; I’m not trying to claim some enlightened perspective outside the combat zone. But I have now concluded that that silence, that uncertainty, that unease—even when configured as ‘respect’ or as ‘listening to women’—is itself a symptom of the underlying problem.”

    For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

5 comments

  • By Sean Ramsdell
    October 12, 2017
    12:01 PM

    A tainted legacy
    Reply
    • By thevoid99
      October 12, 2017
      05:39 PM

      What legacy? One that had him bully filmmakers into re-cutting their films and screw them over.
  • By rvbranham
    October 12, 2017
    07:35 PM

    his treatment of bertolucci, for example, is of a pce w/ his treatment of everyone else. & that he got h.r. to cover up for him, when not actually trying to pimp for him, enters the realm of the genuinely criminal.
    Reply
  • By Sean Ramsdell
    October 13, 2017
    07:37 AM

    He did bring indie films into the mainstream
    Reply